BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears special teams coach Joe DeCamillis reinforced the notion Monday that rookie receiver Marquess Wilson needs to show something in the third phase to provide the most optimal route toward making the 53-man roster.
Wilson wowed observers in the preseason opener at Carolina by catching four passes for 82 yards, including a 58-yarder. But to stand out in the competition for one of the final roster spots at receiver, Wilson needs to display versatility as a special teamer. Wilson also needs to show the staff he's not afraid to strike an opponent.
"We're going to put him out there and see what he can do," DeCamillis said. "We'd like to see what kind of a contact player he is."
Proving that he's indeed a contact player could prove difficult for Wilson, listed seemingly generously at 6-foot-4, 184 pounds.
"For the first time playing (special teams), it's fun. You never know what to expect," Wilson said. "(Playing special teams) gives everybody an extra opportunity. If you're a young guy, that's what you look to do. You look forward to that coming in because you have to play special teams."
Wilson left Washington State as the all-time leader in receiving yards (3,207), and ranked second in school annals in receptions (189) and touchdown catches (23). Wilson played in just 33 career games with 27 starts, before leaving the team last year after a disagreement with WSU head coach Mike Leach.
"Everybody has to prove themselves coming out of college," Wilson said. "I mean, you're a rookie, and you're not known. You've got to build your rep up again."
For Wilson, that process starts on special teams. Against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, he'll be playing gunner on the put team and will also be a part of the kickoff team coverage unit.
"We've seen him run, but we need to know what kind of contact player he is," DeCamillis said. "We're looking forward to it this week. Even though he didn't play on teams last week, he's been involved in every practice, whether he's holding up, covering or blocking. Those practices now are more important than they ever were because of the way the schedule is, and we try to make it as competitive as possible. So he's seen what he's going to see. It's just going to be at a little faster pace this week."
Here are some observations from Monday's workout at Olivet Nazarene University:
Rookies right tackle Jordan Mills and right guard Kyle Long took all the starters reps for the second consecutive practice and appear likely to open up with the first unit when the Bears host the Chargers Thursday in their second preseason game.
Bears coach Marc Trestman said that overall he was pleased with how the two rookies performed against the Bears' No. 1 defensive line.
"I mean they made mistakes just like everybody made mistakes today and as I said to Kyle and Jordan, 'I'm not concerned about the mistakes, I'm more concerned about the next play after the mistakes right now and they recaptured their poise, they went back in there and they did a lot of good things against a really dynamic front today," Trestman said. "The guys were coming after it big-time. It looked like a game out there today, it really did up front, and we got better because of it."
Trestman called Monday's practice one of the top three of training camp.
The Bears, however, did have four shotgun snap attempts fail to find their target, but veteran starter Roberto Garza was only responsible for one of the miscues. The other three botched snaps occurred when reserves were on the field.
DeCamillis said Devin Hester had the green light on special teams in Carolina, which is why Hester chose to return a kickoff that he fielded nine yards deep in the end zone.
Punter Adam Podlesh has struck the ball with authority for the majority of camp. Podlesh had another good day on Monday, while rookie Tress Way struggled for a time until he connected on two long punts near the end of practice.